Player Profile: David Dunn
Date of Birth: 27/12/1979
Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
National Team: England
International Caps: 1
International Goals: 0
There are few names or faces as synonymous with Blackburn Rovers as that of David Dunn. The attacking midfielder made over 350 appearances for the club in two separate spells at Ewood Park.
Born in Great Harwood, a small town just a few miles away from Rovers’ stadium, Dunn grew up a huge Blackburn Rovers fan. He began his footballing journey as an academy player at the club in 1997 and at the age of 18, Dunn came into academy football far later than most.
In 1998, Dunn made his debut in a 0-0 draw with Everton. It was not a great start to his career in blue and white, however, as the attacking midfielder was taken off after just 11 minutes owing to a Rovers red card and the need for a tactical re-jig.
His second appearance was a much happier one. Dunn scored the decisive penalty in a shootout which followed a 1-1 draw at St James Park. It endeared him to the Rovers faithful immediately and his boisterous celebrations earmarked him as a player who would do anything for the honour of wearing the shirt.
Overall, however, the season was not a happy one. Dunn made 19 first-team appearances but couldn’t stop the club from being relegated to the second tier at the end of the campaign.
In the Championship, Dunn became a much more influential figure for the team. In the 2000-01 season, Dunn played nearly every minute of the promotion-winning campaign and after just two seasons away from the big time, Rovers were back. By this time, Dunn was catching the eye of a number of so-called ‘bigger clubs’ and his reputation was only enhanced by his side’s League Cup triumph in 01-02 season.
He stayed at Ewood Park for two more seasons though, making 72 appearances and scoring 16 goals to take his overall tally to 170 games and 38 goals in Rovers’ colours.
Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce saw Dunn’s form and decided to try and bring the talented young Englishman to St Andrew’s. His bid succeeded and in 2003 Dunn played his first match away from Blackburn Rovers. Dunn’s three-and-a-half seasons with Birmingham were among the most disappointing of his career, he made 69 appearances with 11 coming in the Championship after the club’s relegation in the 05-06 season.
Halfway through the following campaign, Dunn returned to his spiritual home of Ewood Park; he was welcomed back with open arms. In his time away, the club had gone from strength to strength and were now playing European football for the first time since their Premier League triumph in 1995.
Dunn had recurring injury problems over the next couple of seasons, but in 2009-10 enjoyed his best form to date, scoring nine times in the opening 15 games of the Premier League season. Again, however, injury cut him down when he was in full flow. Dunn returned that same season but never quite re-produced this kind of form for the remainder of his career.
Dunn experienced relegation for the third time in his career when Rovers slumped to a 19th place finish in the 2011-12 Premier League campaign. They have not returned to the Premier League since.
Despite being clearly two or three stone overweight, Dunn continued to be one of Rovers’ best players in the Championship – injuries permitting. The defining moment of his career came in the 2013 East Lancs Derby contested between Blackburn and bitter rivals Burnley. Blackburn had long been the superior team in the region, going unbeaten against the clarets for 34 years coming into the fixture. The balance of power, however, was beginning to tilt with Burnley having played in the Premier League more recently than Rovers and flying high in the Championship.
Burnley were winning 1-0 going into the 95th minute of the match, seconds away from resetting the clock from 34 years to zero. But with hope almost extinguished, the ball fortuitously fell to David Dunn on the edge of the six-yard box and he hammered home a left-footed strike and sent the Ewood Park faithful into a jubilant frenzy. Dunn regularly jokes on Twitter about the fact that he was blatantly two yards offside when he slotted home.
Dunn left Rovers not long after to become player-manager of Oldham Athletic in League One. It was a very short-lived experience with Dunn ousted from the role after just eight games at the helm.
Dunn’s international career was short but sweet. He himself freely admits that he never expected to play for England, so when he replaced Steven Gerrard in a match against Portugal in 2002 it was the crowning achievement of his career.
Dunn never repeated the feat despite being named in subsequent squads.
Prior to his senior call-up, the midfielder had represented England at Under-18 and Under-21 levels, captaining the side for a brief time in the latter.
Where is David Dunn Now?
After being dismissed from his position with Oldham, Dunn returned again to Blackburn, this time as a coach.
He had roles as assistant manager for the Under-18s and Under-23s. Nowadays, Dunn is a first team coach under the stewardship of Tony Mowbray who has been the Rovers boss since 2017.
Did You Know? Interesting facts about David Dunn
– Rab-oh-no: David Dunn’s failed rabona cross when playing for Birmingham became one of the first viral football videos, amassing millions of views on YouTube.
– What the Cluck?!: David Dunn appeared in an advert for Blackburn Rovers’ poultry-funded owners Venkys in which he is seen greedily scoffing chicken in the team dressing room.